Why Now Is the Perfect Time for a Live-Action 'Invincible' Adaptation

Invincible will finally come to a close this week after 144 issues and 15 years. It is an incredible accomplishment, ranking as one of the longest-running creator-owned series and superhero series from a single creator. Writer Robert Kirkman and artists Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley have taken readers on a notable journey throughout the series existence. What began as a young man’s discovery of his superpowers has morphed into an interstellar adventure featuring great galactic kingdoms and stunning new threats. Invincible features everything superhero fans might want, including a colorful cast of characters, too many styles of villainy to count, and a setting that continued to expand until its final issue.

While Invincible might be finished in comics, we don’t believe that’s reason for the adventure to truly end. There have been rumors of a live-action Invincible adaptation for years now, and it’s time for those rumors to become reality as the series sings its swan song. We don’t just think the time is right because the Invincible comic is ending. Looking at the variety of superhero stories on television and in movie theaters, there has never been a better time for this series to make its debut. More than 15 years ago Invincible began to shake up superhero comics in America; now it’s time for that same epic story to do the same in a live-action adaptation.

Invincible TV - Family Drama
(Photo: Image Comics)

Audiences Want A New Sort of Superhero Story

The 10th anniversary of Marvel Studios is an important reminder of how normalized the superhero genre has become in pop culture. Spider-Man and Iron Man felt like breakthrough moments, but now everyone in the United States and the rest of the world love superheroes as much as regulars at comic book stores. This normalization is an opportunity for any superhero story that dares to stray from the norm. While comic book readers have been complaining about the same trends for years, those patterns are only starting to emerge on the big and small screens of entertainment. Marvel Studios patterns in storytelling have some variation, but many new superhero fans want something entirely outside of what is expected. That’s where Invincible comes in.

Invincible is a story founded on the subversion of superhero tropes. It takes the story of a Superman-like father upholding a typical status quo and violently throws it on its head within the first dozen issues. Every trope and icon of standard superhero fare is challenged within the pages of Invincible, and that makes it the perfect subject matter for an audience ready for something new. New fans of superhero stories have been around long enough to understand how superhero stories typically work and what sorts of characters to expect. Adapting Invincible allows a director or showrunner to play on those beliefs for maximum impact. The series packs plenty of surprises, all of which can be utilized in a brand new way when adapted to live-action.

Invincible TV - Big Picture
(Photo: Image Comics)

The Complete Invincible Offers Almost Unlimited Options

Returning to the Marvel Studios model, it’s easy to see how concepts can be crafted from a long continuity. Just consider the Captain America films. While comics fans can see the roots of both The Winter Soldier and Civil War within Marvel Comics, both films also take cues from dozens of other pre-existing stories. That speaks to the importance of flexibility in adaptation. While the original “Winter Soldier” story created by Brubaker and Epting is great, a direct adaptation from the comic book page to the silver screen would have been awkward at best. In order to craft a story that functions well in a new medium, some allowances must be permitted.

There are 144 issues of Invincible in addition to a variety of mini-series and one-shots that reveal a deep universe packed with stories. After 15 years, the series has a level of flexibility comparable even to the great heroes at Marvel or DC Comics. That means a screenwriter has all of the tools they might need in order to craft a faithful, yet effective adaptation. The many characters, themes, and plot lines wrapped up in Invincible is a toolbox just waiting to be utilized in a brand new fashion.

This is an advantage that works for both film and television. If we receive an Invincible movie, a director will be required to boil down the story into its most essential elements. They will have all of the characters and possible plots they could hope to choose from in selecting just the right one for their vision. Television offers the opposite problem. A showrunner has to be prepared for years of stories, and Invincible offers just that. The real choice comes in choosing what elements to focus on and how to order them based on budget limitations. There’s plenty of good news because Invincible has always featured a variety of small, character-focused plots and special effects heavy events. Reorganizing these events would be an interesting, but fruitful exercise for someone guiding the series to television.

Invincible TV - The Walking Dead
(Photo: Image Comics)

Kirkman Is Equipped to Guide the Adaptation

The greatest fear of any comics fan though is having an unfaithful adaptation of a beloved story. So many superhero movies have missed the heart of what makes characters or plots work. That shouldn’t bother anyone looking forward to an Invincible adaptation though. Robert Kirkman has shifted from being a big deal in comics to a big deal in Hollywood primarily based on his involvement with The Walking Dead. That series’ incredible success has made Kirkman a hot commodity and an obvious writer or produce on and Invincible adaptation.

Kirkman’s love both for his creations has been obvious in interviews throughout the years, and there’s no doubt that if Invincible were brought to television or cinema that Kirkman would want it to be done well. With this writer as a vanguard for quality, fans could expect a great pilot or premiere committed to the concepts that made the comics great. Experience on The Walking Dead might even make Invincible an even more successful adaptation, avoiding prior pitfalls.

So as Invincible reaches its conclusion in comics, it’s far from certain that this is the end. The series’ co-creator has made a successful career in Hollywood and Hollywood is yearning for new sorts of superhero stories. It’s entirely possible that just as Invincible found a unique place in comics 15 years ago, it could be prepared to do the same again very soon. Comics fans already know what this series is capable of, and it’s our fondest desire that others learn the same.